Safety means avoiding and escaping danger
Dangers lurk everywhere; that's not surrendering to paranoia; it's more of the beginning of a hunt. Big dangers make headlines; smaller dangers make headaches and bruises and cuts and burns.
We told the kids that most people only ever really learn from their bruises, though smarter people have the ability to also learn from the bruises of others. In every case, problems evolve into dangers or the potential for dangers. Those dangers and the problems behind them are the enemies of safety. And as the military awareness posters have long dictated, you have to know your enemy.
So our strategy for dealing with danger is to acknowledge it, identify it in the many forms it can take, figure out ways to stop it before or after it appears, and so on. We'll break this up into a few separate phases to help keep our strategic thinking organized.
What can go wrong? Plenty, even if we limit our answers to things that can result in threats to safety. Fires can start. Wiring can get exposed. The air can become unbreathable, or the water poisonous. A house can collapse onto you. Lightning could hit. A tree could fall on the house. Wild animals could attack you in your sleep. You could fall. You could drown in the bathtub. You could be locked out of the house when the weather outdoors presents a threat to health. You could drive a nail into a wall and hit a live power wire. Make your own list.
How can you keep things from going wrong? It starts with that list - the more things you can identify that might go wrong, the more of them you can find ways to keep from going wrong. So yes, the same kind of thinking that led to the safety pin works here. If you don't want a screw or nail to contact live wires, run the wiring through steel conduit. If you want a house that won't collapse on you, build it with stronger materials and better supports. If you don't want your water to poison you, purify your drinking and cooking water at the sink. If you don't want lightning to love you, install lightning rods. Also, of course, there's termite prevention.
You can't prevent every problem and some of them can threaten your safety so, to quote the Boy Scouts, Be Prepared. (And just in case that falls short, be insured).
Shift your thinking from prevention to protection. How can you - or even better, your house - respond to real dangers, right as they're happening?
Sprinklers, for example, can help address fires, stopping fans and airflow can keep them from spreading and shutting off the natural gas line can keep that source of fuel away from the fire.
Retreating from problems
Don't hesitate to run away when that's your safest choice. Sometimes there is no ounce of prevention that can prevent a ton of trouble; take another look at that conflagration at the top of the page.
Every room in a house has at least 2 ways out; that's Code. Leave everything but your loved ones behind. Separate yourselves from the threat. Contact first responders and the neighbors.
So, our principles of safety:
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